While much of the focus of post-draft statements from Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox obviously centered on what transpired at the NFL Draft, a little bit of non-draft news came of the press conference:
Ryan Pace confirms the Bears will decline Kyle Fuller’s fifth-year option. No surprise.
— Bears Insider (@bears_insider) April 30, 2017
Kyle Fuller’s future is very much in doubt in Chicago. He followed up an up-and-down rookie season with a serviceable second year in the Bears secondary, but was completely unavailable in 2016 because of an injury. The Bears declining Fuller’s fifth-year option was inevitable considering Fuller’s recent history, and the fact that he was part of Phil Emery’s final draft class. Struggling players who are part of a team’s prior regime’s draft classes are often first on the chopping block.
In any case, this will be an important offseason and preseason for Fuller. Because if he doesn’t thrive there, he might not make it to a fourth regular season with the Bears.
- As for the draft, Fox gave it a thumbs up and said he was “very pleased” with how it went and the players the team drafted. However, Fox offered up a caveat when he said “I don’t know that we met all our needs. I think that’s impossible when you’re rebuilding like we are. But very pleased with all the players we got.”
- The Bears did address several needs in the draft, though not the ones many thought they would fill and not with the players chosen. No one saw it coming when Pace drafted three non-FBS players, and it was definitely a surprise to see the team take two players from Division II schools. In a draft that pundits believed was loaded with defensive talent, Chicago made safety Eddie Jackson its only choice on the defensive side of the ball. No cornerbacks. No linebackers. No defensive linemen. No problem? I’m surprised the Bears didn’t address the defensive line, which could use a third viable starter next to Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. It’s also a bit of a shock the Bears didn’t find a way to address the cornerback position, especially considering the lack of future commitments at the position. And yet, Fox – a defensive-minded head coach – still finds himself pleased with the draft’s results. That, too, comes off as a bit of a surprise, especially given what might be a make-or-break year for him in 2017. This draft looked to be as much or more about 2018 and beyond.
- Fox also believes the Bears are better now, after the draft, than they were at the end of the 2016 season. How so? According to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, Fox says the Bears are better now because they have a clean bill of health. It’s peculiar reasoning, especially after a season that proved that health is anything but a given in the NFL.
- As for his team’s new quarterback situation, Fox sees Mitch Trubisky as an upgrade, citing his accuracy, mobility, and competitive nature. “We scoured the whole country looking at guys. With Mitchell, I loved his demeanor,” Fox said. “I love what he brings as far as a leader and competitor and the physical tools.”
- Trubisky will represent the highest profile quarterback who was drafted by the team he coached since working with Tim Tebow. Fox’s teams have usually been led by veteran quarterbacks, with Peyton Manning and Jake Delhomme coming to mind during his stints in Denver and Carolina, respectively. With that in mind, Dan Wiederer of the Tribune points out that Fox said he asked friend and former head coach Jeff Fisher about handling Jared Goff – another face-of-the-franchise type rookie quarterback.
- Perhaps Goff isn’t the example Fox wants to use here, considering that Fisher was fired in-season and Goff didn’t start until the 10th game of the season. Instead, Fox might want to find himself asking Fisher about the Steve McNair experience. The Houston Oilers (remember them?) drafted McNair with the third overall pick in the 1995 draft, but he didn’t see the field until the ninth game of the season, didn’t throw a pass until Game 14, and didn’t make his first start until Game 15. McNair sat most of the 1995 and 1996 seasons behind starter Chris Chandler and didn’t take over as QB1 until 1997, his third year with the team and the franchise’s first season in Tennessee.
- As for Mike Glennon, Fox says it’s natural for the team’s (current) No. 1 quarterback to be frustrated about his current situation, per Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. But Fox adds that Glennon will get over it and re-iterated it’s Glennon’s team.
- The Bears did well in recouping some of the draft picks they gave up to land Trubisky by trading out of the 36th pick. However, it was a curious decision not to do so again in an attempt to add more picks the team seemed to covet coming into the draft. On why the team didn’t trade down again, Pace said: “We got to a certain point today where I could feel it was going to drop off a bit, so [we said] ‘let’s go ahead and get players we know we’re going to feel good about instead of just getting quantity and guys we’re not excited about.'” That’s one way to go about attacking a draft, though it doesn’t help fill out the roster, and leaves more questions than answers about what the team will look like moving forward.
- Then again, it’s not as if the Bears didn’t want more picks:
Reporter to #Bears GM Ryan Pace: Are you happy with just 5 picks?
John Fox cuts him off and jokes: "We'd want 20, but they don't let us."
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) April 30, 2017